In reviewing the bill which is likely to be resurrected this week I found several major points of concern which I share in the following letter to Senator Graham (R-SC) a key player in the immigration debate:
Hilton Head Island, SC
Senator Lindsey Graham
Monday, June 18, 2007
Dear Senator Graham:
I write to express my concern for the many evident weaknesses which continue to plague a comprehensive solution to the immigration issue. The tireless and dedicated efforts of Senators like yourself who champion this important legislation are at risk due to an uncompromising stance by proponents when it comes to closing loopholes and strengthening enforcement of both border security and requirements for participation in programs like the "Z" visa.
Your talking points repeatedly stress that immigrants under this program will be required to "meet accelerated English and civics requirements by set deadlines." I join you in wishing that immigrants would learn English and become acquainted with the basics of the American political process necessary to participate fully in the American Dream.
However, the substance of requirements and enforcement provisions for this key principle are decidedly weak and ambiguous. For the 1st renewal of the visa the applicant need only "demonstrate an attempt to gain an understanding of the English language and knowledge of United States civics by taking the naturalization [and] enrollment in or placement on a waiting list for English classes."
Nothing in that language requires that the applicant PASS these examinations, only show that they have made an attempt. Meanwhile, every applicant for a "Z" visa becomes legally entitled to work in the United States from the moment they apply, or even before, if they can show judge that they would be entitled to such benefits under the law when the Z visa is available.
While the provisions in the bill to assist in providing citizenship and English classes are generous, where are the enforcement provisions for those who fail to meet even these watered down standards for English and U.S. civic literacy?
Enforcement is at the heart of concerns shared by those who oppose this bill as it currently stands. How many years now have we talked about border security and yet many of us ask "Where's the Fence" required by previous legislation to protect our Southern border? If the Senate cannot show a seriousness for border security, which previously passed legislation requires, how can we put trust in promises made under this bill?
Calling opponents of this legislation "bigots", as you did recently, only makes the task more difficult. It's past time for you to begin working with Senator Demint and others like Senators in neighboring Georgia for a bill which does more than provide lip service when it comes to enforcement.
You've compromised enough with Senator Ted Kennedy. If I wanted to be represented by him I would move to Massachusetts. Get this bill done. But get it done RIGHT!